Sunday, 15 January 2017

Jammu and Kashmir State belongs to us, Dr Shabir Choudhry

Jammu and Kashmir State belongs to us, Dr Shabir Choudhry
London 15 January 2017
Mr Chairman, friends and colleagues Aslamo alaikam and good afternoon to all of you.

I want to thank Kashmir National Party for organising this Round Table Conference of Jammu and Kashmiri Diaspora of concerned citizens of the State belonging to different cultures, different religions and different areas of our motherland.

To the best of my knowledge, this is the first Conference of its kind where so many wise and sincere people representing various cultures, religions, political parties and views are assembled under one roof. This pluralism is part of our national heritage; and we must be proud of it and must work hard to promote it.

However, while we want to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and fraternity, there are those forces which are actively promoting a culture of extremism, violence, intolerance and hatred. It is sad to note that over the past decades discourse on Jammu and Kashmir dispute is largely defined by those who promote extremism, violence and intolerance. Those who aspire to advance pluralism, democratic values and equality for all either have been silenced or marginalised.

Mr Chairman
We the concerned citizens of the State of Jammu and Kashmir have to decide, are we going to allow a bunch of extremists to call the shots and impose their will on the society, just because it suits their agenda; or are we going to organise ourselves and fight back and establish a society where we can all live in peace and harmony?

I believe religion is a personal matter of citizens. People can decide what religion to follow and how to practise it; and the State must not have a role in this. The only role the state should have is that of a neutral umpire. No one should have a right to impose his/ her religious or political views on others.

While religion is a personal matter; love and loyalty to our motherland - the State of Jammu and Kashmir is obligatory on all of us because the State belongs to all of us. It is this State that has given us an identity and a sense of belonging.

We must endeavour to preserve this identity, and regain unification and independence which was available to us after 15 August 1947. The struggle of all true sons and daughters of the soil is to unite all the areas of the State that were once ruled the Maharaja Hari Singh.
If we fail to rise to the challenge we face, then I am afraid we can lose our identity and sense of belonging; and our future generations might say that our forefathers belonged to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Role of Diaspora

If we are sincere to ourselves and our motherland, then we have to sincerely analyse our roles. We have to see if what we are doing is helping to promote the cause of Jammu and Kashmir State; or is it helping those who want to keep us divided and occupied. Is it promoting the cause of peace and stability, and strengthen our identity and sense of belonging or is it supporting those who are advancing extremism, intolerance, hatred and instability.

At present the State of Jammu and Kashmir is divided and occupied by Pakistan, India and China. All three countries have interests in State of Jammu and Kashmir; however, our interest and sentiments must prevail as we are the principal party to the dispute, and we are also the party which has suffered most since 1947.

Those who like us to remain divided, oppressed and occupied have established proxies who help them to advance their agenda; and keep matters under control. It is sad that when these proxies, presented as leaders visit England or other countries we citizens of Jammu and Kashmir go out of our way to welcome them and arrange dinners and seminars for them. These people, on one hand pocket money from development schemes and receive rewards from the occupiers; and on the other hand they are sent abroad to confuse people and the world community on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.

We need to revisit wisdom of this approach. Think carefully; are these proxies sincere with the unification and independence of the Jammu and Kashmir State? Do they want peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir? Do they want tolerance, freedom, justice and equality for all? If the reply is in negative; and they are loyal to those who occupy us, exploit us and deprive us of our fundamental rights, then why should we respect them and arrange dinners and seminars for them?

In conclusion, Mr Chairman, I want to say that this august gathering should set up a Committee which can plan activities to promote the cause of unification and independence of Jammu and Kashmir State; and which can help us to fight those who support extremism, terrorism, intolerance and hatred.

I thank you Mr Chairman.
Writer is a political analyst, TV anchor and author of many books and booklets. Also he is Chairman South Asia Watch and Director Institute of Kashmir Affairs.

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